Piceance Intensive Study Site

For more information about this research site, including detailed descriptions of studies, lists of publications, and access to long term datasets, please visit our Piceance Intensive Study summary website.

Sampling Piceance plots, 2009In 1976 a large interdisciplinary research project was initiated in the Piceance Basin of NW Colorado in order to provide basic and applied information that would aid in the reclamation of land disturbances associated with oil shale extraction. The project involved approximately ten independent field studies, which were established on a 20-ha site located near what was then the focal point of oil shale activity in the Piceance Basin. The oil shale boom of the 1970's never materialized but now there is growing interest and developing technologies for capturing this resource.

Since this study was established over 35 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals have resulted. Results from these studies have led to many practices currently used in the restoration of disturbed lands. In addition, dozens of thesis and dissertations have been produced. Many of the graduate students that have worked on studies at this site have advanced to become leaders in the fields of reclamation and restoration science.  REL staff most recently revisited three of these studies during 2008 and 2009.


In recent years, the Piceance Basin study site has become valuable as a unique source of longterm data on ecosystem development resulting from a variety of reclamation approaches. Many insights have been gained regarding the utility or futility of various approaches. Both the initial and long-term findings have proven useful for making management recommendations regarding reclamation practices in semiarid ecosystems throughout the world.


Piceance Symposium


On September 8th and 9th, 2010, a symposium celebrating research at the Piceance Intensive Study site was held on the CSU campus in Fort Collins, Colorado.  Researchers and industry professionals presented results and shared insights gained from 35 years of data.   Dr. Cameron Aldridge was the featured speaker for the Wednesday evening banquet, where he presented a talk titled "Sage-grouse conservation in a changing world: what does the future hold?"  The conference was made possible by the generosity of Shell Oil Company.

Download the full schedule of events in the symposium brochure  pdf.

Sucrose additions to Piceance plots, c.a. 1990's